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  1. #1

    Comparing two greek words

    This question relates to my other question in the Theological Forum under "Parallels between Christ's teachings and Paul's"

    The quotation is:

    Galatians 2:16

    16Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

    The greek word pistos (strongs 4102) for faith.

    Would I be wrong in using passages that use the greek word pisteuo (strongs 4100) for believe as parrallel passages such as John 3:15,16
    Philip McFadyen
    Gospel Pockets
    Trewilga/N.S.W./ Australia

  2. #2
    Sometimes, sometimes not. If you don't know Greek, I would advise you to forget about it completely and just work on the basis of the English. Just like in English, Greeks words have multiple meanings. Just because you see a word in two passages doesn't mean that it means the same thing, and two different words can be synonyms, so any topical study relying on a comparison of two words is already methodologically incorrect.

    Also, Strong's Concordance is an awful tool. It is entirely unhelpful for one unskilled in the original languages, since all it does is tell you how a particular word was translated into English and where. Better tools are Vine's Expository Dictionary or Mounce's updated edition.

    Additionally, pistos does not mean "faith." It is an adjective with a variety of meanings ranging from "trusting" to "trustworthy" to "sure." The noun is pistis, which according to one lexicon has 6 different basic meanings, only one of which is "faith."
    Charlie Johnson
    M. A. Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary
    M. A. Villanova University
    PhD Candidate, Church History, Princeton Theological Seminary
    Blog: [url][/url]

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by CharlieJ View Post
    Better tools are Vine's Expository Dictionary or Mounce's updated edition.
    What is this "updated edition" by Mounce that you're referring to?

  4. #4
    Charlie Johnson
    M. A. Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary
    M. A. Villanova University
    PhD Candidate, Church History, Princeton Theological Seminary
    Blog: [url][/url]

  5. #5
    Great. Thanks!

  6. #6
    The words you point to are Gk cognates, that is they have a common linguistic background. But simply discovering a background connection, or a "family" of words, does not of itself imply a legitimate cross-referencing or "parallel text" principle.

    It is vitally important that one first understand a particular verse, or sentence, or series of thoughts by a writer, in its original context. Then, one needs to understand another in its own setting, and this could conceivably come because of light thrown into the mix by the previous study. But only then is one in a good position to find mutual support.

    It is just as reasonable to find two authors saying things that are very similar (once you have understood them), using not the same family of words but entirely different words to say similar things. In this way, theology builds a complex web of interconnected ideas.
    Rev. Bruce G. Buchanan
    ChainOLakes Presbyterian Church, CentralLake, MI

    Made both Lord and Christ--Jesus, the Destroyer
    Acts 2:36 - 1 Cor. 10:9-10 & 15:22-26 - Hebrews 2:9-15 - 1 John 3:8 - James 4:12

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  7. #7
    Charlie is right, if you don't know Greek trying to improvise using some inadequate tools is not a good idea. Let me try and give you an example using English. If you didn't know English but understood that "ran" and "run" are in the same word family group you could run into trouble if you tried finding the similarity in these two sentences:
    "Tom will run for president."
    "Bill ran from the police."
    Does this help?
    Seminarian, RTS Jackson, MS
    Currently residing in Kerkhoven, MN
    Evangelical Free via URC via PCA via OPC
    Joining Kerkhoven Evangelical Free Church soon.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Hello Philip. I didn't know you were on the board. Welcome aboard! I hope the family is well.

    I missed your thread on parallels in the teaching of Jesus and Paul. You might find Peter Barnes' "The Gospel - Did Paul and Jesus agree?" to be quite helpful in this area.

    On the Greek for "believe," I echo the concern with over-using Strongs, but there is a legitimate use of such tools for the Christian who is concerned to search the Scriptures. In this particular case it happens that the word "believe," in Greek or English, is being used in much the same sense even though the contexts are quite different. The one point to remember about faith as the means of appropriating salvation is that it always includes the three elements of knowledge, assent, and trust.

    Yours sincerely,
    Rev. Matthew Winzer
    Australian Free Church,
    Victoria, Australia

    "Illum oportet crescere me autem minui."

  9. #9
    Hi Matthew

    It's hard to find like minded people In the middle of western N.S.W. So I joined the board.
    All the family is well. How about yours?
    I looked up these to words in a number of Theological word books and they seem to interchange the word faith and believe. Like you said one has the added element of trust.
    Philip McFadyen
    Gospel Pockets
    Trewilga/N.S.W./ Australia


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